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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Francis Montgomery

Dates:  1818 - 1897
Active:  Scotland

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for James Francis Montgomery
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Montgomery, descended from an old Scottish family, was called to the Scottish bar in 1840, and it was during his service as a lawyer in Edinburgh that his interest turned to photography. At some point in the 1840s, as recalled in an 1874 “Reminiscence,” “Mr. Montgomery . . . along with some others, visited Sir David Brewster, at St. Andrews, and being immediately smitten with the photographic mania, set about the work as if their very existence depended on success. On their return to town the results were shown and the manipulation explained, and Edinburgh was for some time in a state of furore and excitement.” They formed a Calotype Club, an informal group of “keen experimentalists” eager to share their advancing knowledge and to examine each others’ results. Montgomery’s growing deafness began to pose insurmountable problems for his law career, and he decided to take holy orders. After a brief stint in Dorset from 1856 to 1858, he returned to Edinburgh as curate of St. Paul’s, eventually becoming dean of the diocese there. While Montgomery is not known to have participated in formal exhibitions, he served history well, presenting an important collection of calotypes to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and compiling a valuable album of early Scottish calotypes. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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